To enjoy means to take pleasure or satisfaction from something; enjoyment is the act or condition of enjoying. Thus, enjoyment of physical activity is the act or condition of taking pleasure or satisfaction from physical activity. This entry discusses the conceptualization and assessment of enjoyment, as well as the role of enjoyment as a predictor of physical activity behavior and a mediator of the effects of physical activity promotion interventions on adherence to physical activity programs.
Enjoyment is a broad concept encompassing both pleasure and satisfaction. Pleasure is typically conceptualized as the subjective experience of positive hedonic tone and can occur in the absence of higher cognitive processing regarding the meaning of a stimulus—in this case, physical activity. Satisfaction occurs following the fulfillment of a need or goal and thus, relative to pleasure, typically entails more cognitive mediation to ascertain the meaning of the triggering stimulus. Thus, one may report enjoyment of physical activity like a walk in the park because of the immediate pleasure experienced during the activity or because of thoughts about having accomplished one’s daily physical activity or how it might benefit health.
In research on physical activity enjoyment, the concept is most often assessed by the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES) developed by Deborah Kendzierski and Kenneth J. DeCarlo. The PACES includes 18 semantic differential items, which require respondents to select a point along a 7-point continuum between two opposite descriptors relevant to enjoyment of physical activity (e.g., I enjoy it . . . I hate it; I dislike it . . . I like it; I find it pleasurable . . . I find it unpleasurable). While separate measures have been used to independently assess pleasure and satisfaction in response to physical activity, the PACES remains the most popular measure of the global concept of enjoyment.
Enjoyment of physical activity, as measured by the PACES, is a robust correlate and predictor of physical activity behavior in youth, as well as younger and older adults. This correlation between physical activity enjoyment and physical activity behavior simply means that people who enjoy physical activity are more likely to engage in it.
Considerably less research has examined whether enjoyment of physical activity can act as a mediator between physical activity promotion interventions and increases in physical activity behavior. That is, few studies have examined the effects of public health interventions on people’s enjoyment of physical activity, and, in turn, increases in physical activity behavior. Thus, it remains unclear as to whether enjoyment of physical activity is malleable through intervention or whether certain people are—because of biological predispositions or early childhood experiences— more likely to enjoy physical activity and more likely to engage in it. More research is needed to investigate whether, how, when, and for whom physical activity enjoyment can be increased through public health interventions or individual efforts.
- Kendzierski, D., & DeCarlo, K. J. (1991). Physical activity enjoyment scale: Two validation studies. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 13, 50–64.
- Mullen, S. P., Olson, E. A., Phillips, S. M., Szabo, A. N., Wójcicki, T. R., Mailey, E. L., et al. (2011). Measuring enjoyment of physical activity in older adults: Invariance of the physical activity enjoyment scale (paces) across groups and time. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 8.
- Rhodes, R. E., Fiala, B., & Conner, M. (2009). A review and meta-analysis of affective judgments and physical activity in adult populations. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 38, 180–204.